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Every top 5 song from 1958 to 2016 (polygraph.cool)
340 points by pzaich on May 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments

So. Cool.

1. Playing around in nostalgia territory and am amused by how well pop music re-uses itself over and over.

For instance, in May-Oct 1993, #1 spots were dominated mostly by three songs:

8 weeks: "That's the Way Love Goes" (Janet Jackson) --> samples "Papa Don't Take No Mess" by James Brown (1974)

7 weeks: "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You (UB40) --> cover of "We Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis (1961)

8 weeks: "Dreamlover" (Mariah Carey) --> samples "Blind Alley" by The Emotions (1972)

2. Compare that kind of pop-culture inertia to, say, 1974, where the top spot cycled much more frequently, yet those songs have been sampled heavily in the years since.

I'm a music junkie and have been on a European-pop binge the last couple months. It amazes me how many beats/songs/samples are reused in the European market...and occasionally I'll find the exact song redone for Euro or American consumption (especially popular with Spanish speaking artists to do the same track in both English and Spanish for varying markets).

My most recent find is:

Yall - Hundred Miles (recently on Euro charts) ---> Beat rips off Major Lazer & DJ Snake - Lean On (from last summer)

whosampled.com is a nice website that catalogs samples. I've lots a lot of time on that. :)

For those interested in discovering music over the decades from different countries: http://radiooooo.com/

Shameless plug - if you want more nostalgic music, check out my project http://thenostalgiamachine.com/

You should add a country option. This seems to have a huge US bias.

It's based off the Billboard yearly top 100 chart, which only tracks american music. I'd love to make more, but it's actually been quite hard to get charts for other countries in a yearly format.

Interestingly despite being american music, country which most vistors are from is....South Korea!

Would be cool to have a 'fluid simulation' of top songs between countries too. To see spreading over oceans.

So country and western?

Is it me, or did the 80's just have better music. Maybe it's just the when you become cognizant of music. My first album was Men at Work. Wore that tape out, and the music is STILL good.

Here's what happened as far as I'm aware: changes in radio station ownership in the 1990s created a much less competitive and more homogeneous musical environment, leading to less variety in hit music.

The details: 1996 Telecommunications Act (viewable http://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/tcom1996.txt ), string search for "SEC. 202. BROADCAST OWNERSHIP":

> NATIONAL RADIO STATION OWNERSHIP RULE CHANGES REQUIRED- The Commission shall modify section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555) by eliminating any provisions limiting the number of AM or FM broadcast stations which may be owned or controlled by one entity nationally.

Prior to this, each city had its own local stations and they'd all compete with each other. This change paved the way for Clear Channel aka iHeartMedia, Inc to purchase pretty much every commercial radio station around the country, resulting in the same programs everywhere. I read a reddit post recently that went into more detail about the process but I can't find it.

Ian MacDonald in 1994, at the ending of Revolution in the Head:

> Arguably pop music, as measured by the singles charts, peaked in early 1966, thereafter beginning a shallow decline in overall quality which was already steepening by 1970. While some will date this tail-off to a little later, only the soulless or tone-deaf will refuse to admit any decline at all. Those with ears to hear, let them hear.

After a couple more decades of continuing (though not uniform and consistent) overall decline, the broad truth of this looks more evident than ever. In much the same way that classical music probably peaked roughly around the death of Beethoven, with the shallow decline in overall quality becoming steeper some time in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.

We have a lot more historical distance between us and pre-20th century classical music, than we do with pop music. Just anecdotally, it seems people are biased towards the music of their youth. At any rate, I grew up in the nineties, and Nirvana is greatest rock band of all time.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s (went to college in the early 90s, I remember well when Nirvana was new and Smells Like Teen Spirit was all over the place). I never liked 90s music that much, and prefer late-60s through early 80s music, even though it was either before I was born or I was too young at the time to know about it.

I'm sorry, in my opinion, music has just gotten a lot worse in quality over the years. And the other poster's post about ClearChannel taking over all the radio stations nationwide in the late 90s, I think, is good evidence that it's not just my biased opinion, the environment and the music industry has really changed for the worse. The industry was run in a very different manner back in the 70s and 80s, and it should be obvious that that's going to have a huge effect on the music.

I don't feel that any additional distance is really necessary to say with some confidence that, for example, 2015/6 is probably not the equal of 1966/7 when it comes to pop music in at least the English-speaking world; and I wasn't born by 1967. I can't think of any years in my youth to compare to 1966/7 either, for all that I too admire and fondly remember Nirvana.

But Nirvana was never a chart-topping band. Smells Like Teen Spirit peaked at #6, and never makes it on this visualization. None of their other singles came close to that.

The point is that The Beatles are better than Boyz II Men, not that Led Zeppelin is better than Nirvana.

I think it's not quite right to say that Nirvana wasn't popular, though. Being at #6 instead of #1 is a pretty minor difference in the grand scheme of all the music that gets made.

A big data analysis has shown that music has become progressively less varied since the 1960s: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/is-pop-musi...

I don't think there is as big of a decline in classical music quality if you consider that these days the real classical music (as in, orchestral music that actually sounds good to the average listener) seem to be composed for film rather than for the opera house: John Williams' opus is incredible, for example.

The unfortunate issue is that these days modern music labeled as "classical" seems to be dominated by unlistenable or nearly unlistenable works composed under the guise of "let's break convention with harmony and so on" thus ending with pieces that might be interesting on an intellectual level but that do not move the average listener at all.

Of course the polite way of putting this is that modern classical music is "challenging", but from my perspective if it doesn't move you (and I don't mean move you towards the nearest exit of the concert hall) it's not really music.

> Maybe it's just the when you become cognizant of music.

Almost certainly this.

Not sure why anyone would downvote this, it's a huge factor. It's a well-known phenomenon. The emotional impact of the stuff you listened to in your early days of music fandom is often much greater than even your favorite music as a jaded music fan 20 years later. If that's combined with being a teenager (or younger), those associations are even stronger and more permanent, to the point where that music will always seem to have some intangible, emotionally resonant quality that seems to be missing from the stuff you get into later in life.

Not just that, but the 80s had way more movement up and down in the top 5. There was fierce competition and experimentation. Look at the 90s and you get some bands that stay FOREVER on the top 5 for weeks in a row. Never happened in the 80s.

The late 70s to mid 80s always felt like the musical equivalent to the early 1900s in Modern art. A lot of breaking down of old styles and habits, introduction of new tools, collaborating and stealing ideas from each other. New Wave, Hip Hop, etc.

>Is it me, or did the 80's just have better music. Maybe it's just the when you become cognizant of music.

That can be part of it, but some eras can have better music than others too, period. The same way some centuries have tons of important artistic and intellectual works and others are mostly void of them: societies changes, new models, etc.

This is especially the case with respect to specific genres: e.g. not so much good bebop in 1990-2010 as in 1940s, even though there is some. Genres have their peaks and lows. This holds for genres like rock and r&b too.

> some eras can have better music than others too, period

I agree with your point within genres but I disagree with your point as a whole. The main issue is knowing where to look, which can actually be quite difficult for some periods, as a lot didn't make it onto Youtube or Spotify. I've done some digging, though, and within each decade since the dawn of electrically amplified recording (1925), I've personally managed to find a style of music that I consider "as good as anything in any other period" i.e. timeless.

The thing is, some of these styles have been forgotten in contemporary discourse: Western Swing went from THE most popular style of music in the 1940s to being completely forgotten or tossed under the rug along with "I hate country and rap." If you ignore Western Swing because it's "country", you ignore the most interesting musical movement of that whole period (and you fail to fully understand the origins of Rock & Roll/Rockabilly/Sun Records/Elvis).

Other styles/movements have been reduced to the work of one or two idiosyncratic artists who are revered/remembered more for their personal story than for their place in the broader context: Django Reinhardt is the first that comes to mind (listen to Eddie Lang & Joe Venuti[0], then Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies[1], then come back to Django[2] and see what you think). Johnny Cash and Hank Williams are two others where most people are more familiar with their personal stories than their contextual relevance (and I'd argue one is a lot more important than the other).

I'm willing to list off my personal findings/recommendations on styles/artists but it would take me a while to get from 1925 to today. If there's interest I'll write it up but this post is already getting long.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgzAoDhzUJA

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnjE5aB-cWQ

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTH_Nn_TtDI

If you had a blog or other place to post your list, I would be interested in reading it.

Looks like I wrote it up already about 2 years ago on Reddit, at least from the 1920s thru the 1950s. 1960s and later is easier for most people on this board: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1qtvav/iama_professio...

First post has a lot of good recommendations from the 20s that I stand by. I'd rewrite most of the second post, though. I'll just do an overview here of what I'm familiar with:

30s -- swing/big band, western swing, acoustic/country/delta blues

40s -- western swing (cont), electric blues, honky-tonk, bop, vocal groups (less familiar)

50s -- bluegrass, rockabilly/rock & roll, honky-tonk (cont), folk revival, post-bop

60s and onward is a lot harder to follow, but...

60s -- folk, folk-rock, psych rock, psych folk, PLUS all sorts of jazz (bossa nova, modal) and country (Bakersfield Sound)

70s (note country drops off the map here) -- jazz-fusion, free jazz, disco, soul, singer-songwriter (less familiar), prog (less familiar)

80s -- post-disco, smooth jazz (yes, it can actually be good), punk, detroit techno, proto-house, rap (less familiar), new wave (less familiar)

90s -- house and beyond (my knowledge outside of dance music drops off pretty hard after the mid 80s)

I suspect that, while there's a lot of subjectivity and personal preference involved, certain musical styles just age better than others overall.

This is certainly true of architecture--ref: the various discussions here about the widely perceived ugliness of much of Brutalist architecture. On the flip side, some might not find it inventive or whatever, but few are going to call most examples of neoclassical or Beaux Arts architecture ugly.

So obviously YMMV, but I was born in '92 and my roommate and I listened through basically this whole thing last night - and we both agree with you, the '80s was where it was at.

I listened all the way up to the 90s. I have to wonder how this chart is determined. While obviously many of the popular songs of the period trend, there are some places where it doesn't seem right. For example Michael Jackson's Thriller never broke #3, and MJ barely made the top ten week chart until BAD came out. That can't be right. I checked Wikipedia and it says all MJ songs from that album made #1.

What I would love to see is how many plays/streams each number one got "this" week by comparison. It would be interesting to see the longevity of some of the songs as a replacement for "good", i.e. are there hit songs from the 60's or 70's that still get way more plays than hit songs from the 90's or 00's.

This is not quite what you are looking for, but it is still pretty interesting:


Is there a way to hear it in the background? Every time I switch tabs, it stops playing. Also, it sometimes mixes up songs from different periods (1958+1997)

>Is there a way to hear it in the background? Every time I switch tabs, it stops playing. Also, it sometimes mixes up songs from different periods (1958+1997)

A quick cheat for sites that stop "running" when switching tabs is to open them in a new window of their own, with no other tabs open in it.

You can then return to your "main" browsing window and get back to whatever you were working on previously.

some sides (TED for example) still screw you over if you do that (the quality drops to beyond worthless in TEDs case).

haven't visited that side in about 2 years now, and the main reason why i stopped going there was that i couldn't activate a stream on my second monitor while doing something else on my primary.

Thank you!

I opened it side-by-side with my other tabs (using win + left arrow, win + right arrorw) after pulling the tab out. That way I can continue browsing without actually putting the other tab in the background.

It is a silly restriction!

edit: mootothemax's suggestion is even better, I didn't realize the tab can go in the background after being split out.

Yeah, this is driving me insane.

Leave it running in a separate window.

Interesting how some themes changed completely. You would never expect to hear "ballad of green berets" as top song anymore.

I think there is noticeable deterioration in music quality of the top hit during the past millenia. I guess it's combination of several factors: music getting cheaper, youngsters getting more money. And people in their thirties having more and more options on what to listen, so they are less likely to herd the record store on any one given single. I'd say music was still good in 86. (I was born then.)

From 2001 onwards it seems the teens started to swarm billboard social 100 or something. Boybands are out and music is suddenly OK again.

>I think there is noticeable deterioration in music quality of the top hit during the past millenia.

Just to nitpick, I think most of us know too little about the hit music of 1016 to tell. The English top 10 probably included coronation songs for Edmund Ironside and then Cnut, but apart from that, we don't know much.

But I agree that much of the hits I've heard since 2000 are mostly crap. I bet it is because I'm getting old.

No, it's not. It's because they're crap. Go back a decade or three before that point in time, and the radio stations were all independent and not owned by a single big corporation (ClearChannel). The entire music industry is very different now (or in 2000) than it was in 1970 or 1980 or even 1990.

Finally, if you have an ear for music, you should be able to listen to music from other periods before you were born and find stuff that's really high quality, even if it's not a genre you normally listen to. Not so for post-2000 stuff (unless maybe it's some indie stuff or something obscure, not radio pop).

Now as for 1016, music was really different in the days before recorded music. The classical stuff like Brahms and Beethoven was paid for by rich patrons (nobility usually) and played for richer audiences. The common people's music isn't very well known, since no one recorded it. The music that the King in 1016 listened to was surely not the same as what the peasants listened to.

Beethoven wrote music from the 17th-18th century, and Brahms in the 18th. That's essentially modern music, when the comparison is with the 11th century. It's recorded on paper, and we can reproduce it easily.

"Summer is icumin in" is from the 13th century (I can't find a reasonable recording).

This is older, and was on HN 5 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11607392 / http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/first-performance-in-1000...

In addition to peasant and court music, there was religious music. But I have no idea how common it was.

>Beethoven wrote music from the 17th-18th century, and Brahms in the 18th. That's essentially modern music, when the comparison is with the 11th century. It's recorded on paper, and we can reproduce it easily.

Totally wrong. It wasn't recorded electronically, and you needed a whole orchestra of highly skilled musicians to reproduce it. Your average guy on the street in 1885 did not have this. Your average guy on the street in 1985, however, could just turn on his Sony Walkman and listen to a cassette tape of whatever music he wanted to, or to FM radio. This makes the music industry entirely different. The ability to record sound and play it back on a mechanical (or electronic) device without any musicians changed everything, and brought music to the masses in a way they never had access to it before. Before this, the average person either had to pay to attend a concert (probably not a frequent occurrence, just like attending concerts isn't exactly a daily activity for people today), or maybe he had his own (not very high-end) instrument and tried to play some things by himself or with some friends. That's an entirely different culture than one where people can listen to professional musicians play music at almost any time or place thanks to stereos, headphones, etc.

I don't think it's "totally wrong". Yes, you need a competent musician to play organ, or a skilled orchestra to repeat the partiture of a 18th century composition, but we have a good idea of what it sounded like. The tempo may be a bit of guesswork but probably not too far off. And if it can be played, it can be recorded and listened by anyone.

No, it can't be. Maybe you're rich enough to hire a symphony, but some random laborer in 1885 was not. That's the whole point: everything has changed because music is accessible to the common man now, in a way that it never was before the invention of recorded music.

Simply being expensive doesn't make my point "totally wrong". It's not expensive, anyway: the cost is shared between all who buy the recording, or attend the concert.

Early Medieval music can't be reproduced at any cost, with the few exceptions we have requiring years of study before they were understood.

Also, I think people would have heard lots of music. Pubs in Britain used to have pianos, Irish pubs are known for having musicians, folk dancing was common, etc.

>Also, I think people would have heard lots of music. Pubs in Britain used to have pianos, Irish pubs are known for having musicians, folk dancing was common, etc.

How often did these pub-goers hear Brahms or Vivaldi? Probably never. They heard whatever music that local musicians played, or whatever they figured out how to play as amateurs, and that was about it. They didn't have companies finding talented musicians in different regions, countries, or continents and marketing them, recording their music, and making it available for them to buy a copy so they could listen to it while driving to work.

I think you mean Beethoven was 18th-19th century, and Brahms was 19th century.

One thing I'm glad is that my two sons listen to a lot of good stuff (1970's hard rock, music that was not new when I was a teen, or even The Beatles, from around the time I was born). It makes life more tolerable.

What makes me sad is that over here, the public broadcaster (government-owned) has playlists for pop just like the commercial radio stations do. I don't understand why, and it makes radio very very dull.

> I think there is noticeable deterioration in music quality of the top hit during the past millenia.

Maybe the top hits, but not music in general.

The main reason is, in my opinion, the diversification of styles and the more varied tastes of the listeners.

For example, a lot of the music that I listen to would never be played on the radio (partly because this was not the main intention of the artists).

The other reason is, of course, the business-ification (?) of music - we have no problem with the term "music industry" it seems.

There are bands which are "companies", and they produce "products" which happen to be songs. They invest a lot in PR and marketing, they research and deliver what the market wants, just like a for-profit enterprise would. This is somewhat opposed to "true" artists, who express their feelings and emotions through music.

I've always looked skeptically at these "tops", because they are not about music, but about the business behind it. Some of the songs, though, are good and I enjoy hearing an older song because it reminds me of certain time-space points, which is to say, they bring good memories about when I was younger.

Interest has diversified (and globalization has made access to foreign music easier), and the "top" sales don't really matter any more, because between hundreds of sub-genres, "pop" music is an artefact that doesn't represent any useful audience any longer. Teens aren't really swarming billboards, they're using social media to discover artists and… acquire music in ways that rarely impacts sales metrics.

> I think there is noticeable deterioration in music quality of the top hit during the past millenia.

Despite being one whose personal preference is for music that's over a couple of hundred years old, I think your comment comes across as elitist. It's fine to have personal preferences, but I don't know how you'll justify such a claim.

To me 90's top of the charts simply sounds more one dimensional and less skillfull than music before or after.

But that's just it. The "top of the charts" has always sounded like crap to me. For exmaple, The Beatles has some pretty good songs, but their chart toppers annoy the fuck out of me.

If you're singling out the 90's, I suspect that's got something to do with your age, i.e. your musical tastes developed at a different period. Were you a teenager in the 80s?

I was born in 86

I think a big part of the deterioration of musical quality is connected to three major factors:

1. Recorded music has meant less need for such large numbers of musicians, as a result the pool of potential talent is lower. Much less live music is performed as a result, as a result the pool of musicians with great live musical abilities has gone down.

2. Multi-track and then computer recording has made it possible to make much more 'effects' based music, which wows the ears sonically, but requires less musicianship to back it up. The large producers of pop music has largely clung to using these techniques to give their music a unique 'modern' sound, largely fueled by the latest developments in technology.

3. The ever progressing corporatization of the music industry.

I think all of these could be used to justify why music has gotten better:

1. Only the most passionate musicians do it as a profession.

2. A producer doesn't have to chase that perfect accordion sound and manage to record it withouht distortion anymore. Which means it's increasingly about musical ideas and less about mechanical skill.

3. Corporatization always has element of specialization. Which has yielded lots of good on on other fields.

4. Lowered attention spans. It's true across all media, our culturally induced ADHD rewards novelty hits, least common denominator styles, and especially demotes things that require more than 15 seconds to process and understand before moving on. It's not just music it's clickbait headlines and superhero movies too.

Superhero movies? They seem quite long to me. In fact, the average length of the most popular movies has been increasing.

One could argue it's more about the "thrills-per-minute" counts going up. I'm not saying I totally agree, but it is at least evident to me that movies from past decades spend a little more time between "thrills" than your average modern film.

Of course. But the cognitive load required to be made aware of one and then process and make a decision to watch is nearly instantaneous.

Even at the time it seems the success of "Ballad of the Green Berets" was pretty self-conscious, a counter-counter-cultural statement by record buyers.

> You would never expect to hear "ballad of green berets" as top song anymore.

It's very much an outlier--I suspect the "Silent Majority" deliberately pushed that to the top of the charts as a protest against all the hippie counterculture stuff that was in the charts until then.

I enjoyed this,but was surprised to see how the older stuff (1970s) skyrocketed to the top, then PLUMMETED off after a week. Compare to 2000s where a song can stay at top for a month, and may drift down.

As others point out, changes in how tracked (radio play vs. download sales vs. streams) can change this, but it is fascinating to see visually.

It still happens today, but perhaps more rarely. For physical copies I'd bet a large part of the problem is simply availability, and by the 2000s most labels had gotten better at a solid distribution flow. If you sell out 10k albums in your first week, but have no more ready to go next week, you're going to drop pretty hard.

> I enjoyed this,but was surprised to see how the older stuff (1970s) skyrocketed to the top, then PLUMMETED off after a week. Compare to 2000s where a song can stay at top for a month, and may drift down.

Yes, this is fascinating to see, and I believe there is some high correlation between the speed of changes and the quality of the produced music.

I wonder if different folks are listening (or reporting anyway). How did popularity used to get tracked? Callin requests to radio stations? Is that still how its done?

> Is that still how its done?

Good lord, that would be shocking. I know very few under-20s who listen to the radio for music, and I've never even met someone who had ever called into a radio station to request a song.

Most likely it's a mix of itunes downloads, youtube clicks, spotify plays, etc.

It was five-ish years ago, but we had a period where we listened to the radio a lot at my previous employer. Company Wi-Fi didn't allow for streaming music, and I didn't have a smartphone at the time. Occasionally someone else did or I'd bring in my iPod and play stuff, but it's a lot easier just to tune in and let someone else be the DJ for you. It also takes off the pressure of picking music that's appropriate/likeable for everyone - if a song that no one likes comes on, we all could roll our eyes and sit through it or we could just change the station.

Now that I work from home my radio usage is mostly limited to sports, though I take a lot of road trips for family purposes and it becomes fun to scan through the radio and seek out songs you know.

And I have called in to a station before - probably not for ten years, but I've done it! It's interesting to see how they cut up the conversation to fit the space they have.

I've called into radio stations to request songs. But I was a teenager, and this was somewhere around 1990.

I got to the early 70s before i ran out of time. The 60s were an incredible time for music. The sheer variety is amazing. Pop, soul, bossa nova, rock. I think the 90s had a smaller creative burst with rock and hip hop and to some degree dance/electronic genres. I'm ready for another music revolution.

It's easy to forget just how well some modern artists fine-tuned the hit song production process. Everyone thinks of The Beatles, but Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and Beyonce (if we include her Destiny's Child time) all beat them for weeks at #1.

Going by weeks at #1, Mariah Carey is probably the most popular artist of all time (i.e., since Billboard started recording). She also had a collab ("One Sweet Day") that still holds the record for most weeks at #1. Not only her raw numbers, but her career delivered #1s spanning 3 decades.

I guess I never thought that she was as big as she is/was.

However, even over the course of the '80s singles sales plunged from their '60s/'70s level, so those later long runs at #1 aren't as impressive in absolute terms.

Thank you for this! If anyone is interested in the evolution of pop music over time (especially the last 20 years) and how hits are made, read "The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory"

Is it just my imagination, or are black people overrepresented in the top 5?

They are overrepresented in popular music generally. Pretty much all pop music is derived from forms developed by african-americans: blues, jazz, disco, techno etc.

If you go back a step further, then you can say that those forms are derived from White-European sources e.g. Christian gospel, folk music, krautrock, experimental synth etc. so the question remains why/how it happened.

IMHO good art comes from adversity and novelty (mixing cultures). These were active forces in the 19th century and sadly still active today.

What is still sadly active? Gospel is white and European now? I don't understand.

>> What is still sadly active?

Adversity faced by the black community. Oppression, poverty and violence etc. We probably wouldn't have hip-hop if everyone had a trust-fund. Art needs something to say.

>> Gospel is white and European now?

Sure i.e. European Hymns as the principle influence of Southern Gospel music. I believe the original music called "Gospel" was in European Christian communities. I'm no expert and can be corrected.

I'm seeking to demonstrate that questions about cultural influences are better explained by events (diaspora, oppression) than to just see race and stop there as though its a sufficient explanation.

Yeah, I guess that seeing it in terms of Top 5 just made the issue a lot more black and white.

One fascinating point is the sudden collapse of disco in the summer of 1979. This may be related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_Demolition_Night

Hah, cool - Nel Cielo Dipinto di Blu (aka Volare) was the last Italian song to get anywhere on US charts.

With good reason IMO - I'm not much of a fan of Italian pop. I go for a bit more esoteric stuff like Fishbone, Oregon's own Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

This is absolutely wonderful. Such a great idea and execution!

I have to wonder how many of these Nile Rodgers[1] is responsible for.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_Rodgers

Its quite easy tracking song popularity down to number plays, thanks to the streaming services, but thats now. Any idea where the old data is coming from? Couldn't find any links on the site.

i made this. you can get much of it from billboard, though i used the whitburn project.

It use to be tracked by radio song requests and sales of singles.

Very cool project.

Had to stop the music at first. 1990s' western music (pop music that is, can't see anything else there) was... well - bad. Didn't even realize up until now.

As someone who never listens to the radio so I don't know what is currently being paid-to-play this was very educational and entertaining.

FWIW. I was wondering the source. This is top 5 per Billboard (in the title). Is Billboard the global leader in tracking hits? (just inquisitive)

I think Billboard tracks in the US only.

I wish someone made a Spotify playlist for this.

I love this a lot, but every time I open it or switch back to it, it just makes me want to go and listen to Skee-Lo's I Wish.

Is there a way to change the resolution from every day to every week or every month?

If you enjoyed this, I highly recommend the podcast episodes from The Gist (from Slate) where they talk about Billboard #1 hits from various years.


I like the concept though I kind of wish I could zoom out and see more than the top 5

This is beautifully made. It works very well.

Good job, this is really cool

Very nice shameless plugs. Wouldn't mind seeing more.


I don't like most of the top #1 hits. Averaging the masses of people will give average music.

No, it's not average music. It's the #1 music averaged over the population. If you don't understand the difference, you're there one who's average.

Which is exactly the whole point of this.

I don't agree with "Every top 5 song, from 1958 - 2016, so we can stop arguing about when music was still good".

Because "top 5" doesn't mean "good", does it?

Well, it once did if you go back in time.

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